Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

To Catch a Killer – Emma Kavanagh

Crime Fiction
5*s

Emma Kavanagh manages to write crime fiction almost in the tone of someone who has experienced the very events herself. Perhaps this isn’t so surprising given her background as she spent many years working as a police and military psychologist, training firearms officers, command staff and military personnel throughout the UK and Europe. In other words she knows how people behave in moments of peril!

To Catch a Killer opens in the middle of just such a moment, the kind of moment that I suspect I am alone in being able to thankfully say, I have not experienced in real life. Just as well because the book scared the bejeebers out of me! The memory of a day, one just like any other until the day DS Alice Parr answered a call on the radio to assist a paramedic save the life of a woman who had her throat cut. Warning, do not read this book if you are squeamish or eating your dinner, that feeling of being in the moment results in those heart-thumping moments you get viewing hospital dramas – you know it is fiction but even so…

Once the victim has been taken to hospital of course the police have to work out who the perpetrator of such a crime is and given that the attack took place in a London park, in the morning, how could they commit such a bloody crime in broad daylight with no one spotting what was going on?

So the reader has plenty to ponder and be warned although initially you may feel the pace is reasonable, it soon becomes quite fast and furious and given that the plot is complex, you need your wits about you. In other words this is a book to set aside some time to really get the best out of it. Fortunately to offset the blood and gore we have two female police officers who work well together, Polly’s somewhat less serious nature while not detracting from the crime does give the reader some smiles to lighten the load along the way.

We also get to visit another location, unusual in British crime fiction which normally tends to stay fairly close to home with a big deal being made if officers cross into the next county. In this book they have to get on an airplane to carry out some of the investigating which adds a whole different feel to the storyline.

The result of all this is an immensely satisfying crime fiction novel that really held my interest throughout and although I did manage to work out a tiny bit of the puzzle, the rest worked their magic and left me reeling at the outcome. This is the first in a trilogy that will feature Alice Parr a fact I was unaware of until I read the cliff hanger at the end which I have to confess isn’t my favourite way for a book to end as I suspect I will have to recap before the second book is published, but I will definitely be making sure I read a copy.

I therefore must say a huge thank you to Orion Publishing Group for allowing me to read a copy of To Catch a Killer prior to publication on 24 January 2019. This unbiased review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 24 January 2019
Publisher: Orion
No of Pages: 416
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Other Great Reads by Emma Kavanagh

Falling
Hidden
The Missing Hours
Killer on the Wall

 

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (January 8)

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Vicky from I’d Rather Be At The Beach who posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

Well we have a new year and that means a whole heap of brand new books to read, what could be better? OK well if they were accompanied by a sun-drenched holiday complete with cocktails but… a fire & a blanket in a cold January will have to suffice!

My choice of opening this week comes from To Catch a Killer by Emma Kavanagh, author of Hidden, The Missing HoursThe Killer on the Wall and Falling, all excellent psychological thrillers that truly thrill. To Catch a Killer will be published by Orion on 24 January 2019.

 

Blurb

I’ve been watching you DS Alice Parr.
I saw you trying to save the poor young woman you found in the park.
The woman I tried to kill.
I’ve been waiting for you to find her family. To find someone who cares about her.
But you can’t can you?
You’ve never had a case like this.
I know everything about you. You know nothing about me.
Even though I’m the man you’re looking for.
And you will never catch me… Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

Prologue

 

When I think about that day, when I think about her, it is her hands that I remember most. Long, patrician fingers, the nails shaped into a smooth arc, filed with a care that even to this day, baffles me. The muted pink of them so perfectly applied, the blood that had worked its way into the creases of her fingers, ghoulish and macabre besides the effortless glamour. I remember the way her fingers clutched mine, those perfect nails raking at my palm as if I represented the final rung on a falling ladder, and that by holding on to me she could hold on to a rapidly disappearing life. Perhaps that was true. Perhaps that was precisely what I was to her.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Yes it looks very much like I’ve started 2019’s opening post with a full on psycho killer – I mean really, not knowing from experience but I doubt the quality of someone’s manicure is what preoccupies most murderers…  Can’t wait to see what other treats this book has in store!

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best – Five Star Reads (February 2014 to 2018)

5 Star Reads

In 2015 to celebrate reviewing for five years I started a series entitled Five of the Best where I chose my favourite five star reads which I’d read in that month. Later in 2018 I will be celebrating Five years of blogging and so I decided it was time to repeat the series.

You can read my original review of the book featured by clicking on the book cover.

My choice of review for February 2014 is Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent which can’t help but grab your attention from the very first line:

‘I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.’

A book reminiscent of those written by Patricia Highsmith and Barbara Vine, Unravelling Oliver seeks to peel back the layers of Oliver’s life in a study of a psychopath.

As we travel through the five decades of his life different characters from Oliver’s life tell us a little bit more about the man, as if they are giving interviews to the media as monologues, each one giving us a little more insight into Oliver’s character and the events that shaped his life.

The originality, cleverness and fantastic characters which peel back the layers of Oliver over the years was a sheer delight to read.

Blurb

Liz Nugent’s gripping novel of psychological suspense, Unravelling Oliver, is a complex and elegant study of the making of a sociopath in the tradition of Barbara Vine and Patricia Highsmith.

Oliver Ryan is a handsome and charismatic success story. He lives in the suburbs with his wife, Alice, who illustrates his award-winning children’s books and gives him her unstinting devotion. Their life together is one of enviable privilege and ease – enviable until, one evening after supper, Oliver attacks Alice and beats her into a coma.

In the aftermath, as everyone tries to make sense of his astonishing act of savagery, Oliver tells his story. So do those whose paths he has crossed over five decades. What unfolds is a story of shame, envy, breath-taking deception and masterful manipulation.

Only Oliver knows the lengths to which he has had to go to get the life to which he felt entitled. But even he is in for a shock when the past catches up with him. Amazon

It is another psychological that takes the top spot for February 2015 although this one is of the more action-packed variety. Hidden by Emma Kavanagh opens with a shooting at a Welsh hospital with our own reporter, Charlie, who was onsite at the time this is one of those books that had me convinced this could be a ‘real-life’ event. 

This was a tense and complex read which is a mixture of more traditional crime fiction alongside the psychological element. The plotting and characterisation both key to pulling of this unforgettable read.

Blurb

HE’S WATCHING
A gunman is stalking the wards of a local hospital. He’s unidentified and dangerous, and has to be located. Urgently.

Police Firearms Officer Aden McCarthy is tasked with tracking him down. Still troubled by the shooting of a schoolboy, Aden is determined to make amends by finding the gunman – before it’s too late.

SHE’S WAITING

To psychologist Imogen, hospital should be a place of healing and safety – both for her, and her young niece who’s been recently admitted. She’s heard about the gunman, but he has little to do with her. Or has he?
As time ticks down, no one knows who the gunman’s next target will be. But he’s there. Hiding in plain sight. Far closer than anyone thinks… Amazon

As well as crime fiction my other great reading love is for historical fiction and this is an author who also appeared in January’s Five of the Best – The Ballroom by Anna Hope takes us to Sharston Asylum in West Riding Yorkshire and is set in 1911.

With stand-out characters which include patients as well as one of the doctors, we learn about a community where the care of those with mental health issues was no longer completely in the dark ages. The title refers to the dances, complete with band, which took place to lift the spirits of the inmates.

The story is told by each of the three narrators; Ella, John and Charles each evocative in different ways and perfectly providing the reader with a picture of the summer of 1911 when the heat was unbroken, the fields filled with crops and the steamy and smelly laundry where Ella washed underwear and sheets, was damp and hot.

An unforgettable read, not to be missed.

Blurb

1911: Inside an asylum at the edge of the Yorkshire moors, where men and women are kept apart by high walls and barred windows, there is a ballroom vast and beautiful.
For one bright evening every week they come together and dance.
When John and Ella meet It is a dance that will change two lives forever.

Set over the heatwave summer of 1911, the end of the Edwardian era, THE BALLROOM is a historical love story. It tells a page-turning tale of dangerous obsession, of madness and sanity, and of who gets to decide which is which. Amazon

I finally got around to reading and reviewing The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell in February 2017 and was blown away by this story set in the time of the American Prohibition.

So we are in 1920s Brooklyn during the Prohibition period. Rose our narrator is a typist in the Police Precinct there and we hear her thoughts on the other typists who she feels superior to. And then Odalie joins the typing pool and Rose’s life is thrown into disarray. In my review I comment that Rose isn’t so much an unreliable narrator as a nebulous one, even at the end of the book I found it hard to pinpoint exactly where the truth ended and the lies began… A superb character study in a time-period and place I know far too little about so all I can say is it had me hooked and oh, that ending!

Blurb

New York City, 1924: the height of Prohibition and the whole city swims in bathtub gin.
Rose Baker is an orphaned young woman working for her bread as a typist in a police precinct on the lower East Side. Every day Rose transcribes the confessions of the gangsters and murderers that pass through the precinct. While she may disapprove of the details, she prides herself on typing up the goriest of crimes without batting an eyelid.
But when the captivating Odalie begins work at the precinct Rose finds herself falling under the new typist’s spell. As do her bosses, the buttoned up Lieutenant Detective and the fatherly Sergeant. As the two girls’ friendship blossoms and they flit between the sparkling underworld of speakeasies by night, and their work at the precinct by day, it is not long before Rose’s fascination for her new colleague turns to obsession.
But just who is the real Odalie, and how far will Rose go to find out? Amazon

My choice for February 2018 is also one from my own bookshelf; Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase is an evocative read set between two time zones. Easter 1968 a tragic event at the house affectional known as Black Rabbit Hall by the Alton changes the family’s life forever.

In the present day Lorna is looking for the perfect wedding venue and is drawn to happy holiday memories in Cornwall with her parents and her sister. But, yes, you’ve guessed it – there are secrets that are there to be uncovered!

This is a beautiful tale, wonderfully descriptive with all the elements of a traditional fairy tale wrapped up in a believable family saga.

Blurb


One golden family. One fateful summer. Four lives changed forever.

Amber Alton knows that the hours pass differently at Black Rabbit Hall, her London family’s country estate where no two clocks read the same. Summers there are perfect, timeless. Not much ever happens. Until, one stormy evening in 1968, it does.
The idyllic world of the four Alton children is shattered. Fiercely bonded by the tragic events, they grow up fast. But when a glamorous stranger arrives, these loyalties are tested. Forbidden passions simmer. And another catastrophe looms . . .
Decades later, Lorna and her fiancé wind their way through the countryside searching for a wedding venue. Lorna is drawn to a beautiful crumbling old house she hazily remembers from her childhood, feels a bond she does not understand. When she finds a disturbing message carved into an old oak tree by one of the Alton children, she begins to realise that Black Rabbit Hall’s secret history is as dark and tangled as its woods, and that, much like her own past, it must be brought into the light.
A thrilling spiral into the hearts of two women separated by decades but inescapably linked by Black Rabbit Hall. A story of forgotten childhood and broken dreams, secrets and heartache, and the strength of a family’s love. Amazon

If you want to see what the five books featured on Five of the Best for February 2011 to 2015 were you can do so here

How many of these have you read? Did you enjoy them as much as I did? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Five of the Best 2018

January 2018

 

 

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Killer on the Wall – Emma Kavanagh

Psychological Thriller
4*s

Isla was just fifteen when she came across three dead bodies sat up against Hadrian’s Wall. Alongside them was the brother of one of the victims, injured but still alive. Isla ran to get help from her father Sergeant Eric Bell and he made it his mission to find out who committed this atrocity in the small town community of Briganton. Life was never the same again, the scars of the events of 1995 never quite healing.

In the present day Isla is Professor of Criminal Psychology, her way of trying to ensure that future killers are stopped before they inflict any damage. She is currently involved in a project to scan the brains of serial killers to see what, if any difference, she can find to contrast their make-up to the vast majority of the population who don’t feel the urge to kill others.

It is no great surprise that one of the candidates for her study is Heath McGowan the man convicted of the terrible crimes that she discovered. Isla has had to overcome her fear, she does it daily, running the same path along the wall to banish those demons from twenty years ago but will she be able to face up to this particular psychopath? Imagine Isla’s horror shared with the rest of the small community, when another victim is found positioned in a similar pose to those of all those years ago.

The face of the Police investigation should be Eric Bell whose career flourished after he found the killer back in 1995 but I was far more entranced by Detective Constable Mina Arian who wasn’t afraid to follow her instincts in coming up with an explanation why the killings have started again.

As with all her previous books Emma Kavanagh draws heavily on her background in psychology, having gained a PhD in the subject at Cardiff University, and so you can rest assured this is not pop psychology but the real deal. It is this underlying truth that make her books so fascinating. The Killer on the Wall is fundamentally about psychopaths and in part how to first spot them (face it, you will know at least one) and to know that they will lie and cheat to get what they want no matter the cost to others. Fortunately for the rest of us, not all psychopaths need to kill us but nevertheless this is a book that hits that nerve where you realise that even in a community where everyone knows each other, you’re not as safe as you would like to believe.

The plot is not as fast moving as in the author’s previous books but as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve come to appreciate the slower pace which gives you time to reflect on the knowledge gained so far and I firmly believe that it is this pace that gives headroom for those deep-seated fears so the tension comes from as much within the reader as the words on the page – far more scary!!

I’d like to thank Arrow for providing me with an ARC of The Killer on the Wall, this review is my thanks to them and the immensely talented Emma Kavanagh – thank you for providing me with a real mystery set in a small town where everyone is under suspicion whilst the majority are terrified out of their wits.

First Published UK: 20 April 2017
Publisher: Arrow
No of Pages:  384
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Other Great Reads by Emma Kavanagh

Falling
Hidden
The Missing Hours

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (April 12)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

My current read is The Killer on the Wall by Emma Kavanagh which will be published on 20 April 2017.

Blurb

The first body comes as a shock
The second brings horror
The third signals the beginning of a nightmare

When fifteen-year-old Isla Bell finds three bodies propped against Hadrian’s Wall, her whole world falls apart. In such a close-knit community, everyone knows the victims, and the man who did it.
Twenty years on and Isla has dedicated her life to forensic psychology; studying the brains of serial killers, and even coming face to face with the convicted murderer who turned her world upside down. She is safe after all, with him behind bars.
Then another body appears against the Wall.
And another.
As the nightmare returns and the body count rises, everyone in town is a suspect.
Who is the Killer on the Wall? NetGalley

The last book I finished was Simon Said by Sarah R Shaber as part of my Mount TBR 2017 having bought the eBook in June 2015.



Blurb

Forensic historian Simon Shaw likes his murders old and cold, and his first case fits the bill. An archeologist friend has found a skeleton with a bullet hole in its skull under historic Bloodworth House, and Simon investigates with his usual doggedness until he discovers that the corpse is Anne Bloodworth, an heiress who disappeared in 1926. Shaw feels compelled to find out who killed her. But this turns out to be more than an academic exercise when someone who wants to hide past secrets tries to murder him! Amazon

Next up I plan to read Little Deaths by Emma Fling which keeps slipping down the TBR.

Blurb

It’s the summer of 1965, and the streets of Queens, New York shimmer in a heatwave. One July morning, Ruth Malone wakes to find a bedroom window wide open and her two young children missing. After a desperate search, the police make a horrifying discovery.
Noting Ruth’s perfectly made-up face and provocative clothing, the empty liquor bottles and love letters that litter her apartment, the detectives leap to convenient conclusions, fuelled by neighbourhood gossip and speculation. Sent to cover the case on his first major assignment, tabloid reporter Pete Wonicke at first can’t help but do the same. But the longer he spends watching Ruth, the more he learns about the darker workings of the police and the press. Soon, Pete begins to doubt everything he thought he knew.
Ruth Malone is enthralling, challenging and secretive – is she really capable of murder?
Haunting, intoxicating and heart-poundingly suspenseful, Little Deaths by Emma Flint is a gripping debut novel about love, morality and obsession, exploring the capacity for good and evil within us all. Amazon

So that’s my reading this week; what does yours look like?

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (April 4)

First Chapter

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

This week I have chosen my first paragraph from The Killer On The Wall by Emma Kavanagh an author whose books Falling and Hidden both wowed me!

Blurb

The first body comes as a shock
The second brings horror
The third signals the beginning of a nightmare

When fifteen-year-old Isla Bell finds three bodies propped against Hadrian’s Wall, her whole world falls apart. In such a close-knit community, everyone knows the victims, and the man who did it.
Twenty years on and Isla has dedicated her life to forensic psychology; studying the brains of serial killers, and even coming face to face with the convicted murderer who turned her world upside down. She is safe after all, with him behind bars.
Then another body appears against the Wall.
And another.
As the nightmare returns and the body count rises, everyone in town is a suspect.
Who is the Killer on the Wall? NetGalley

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

1

22 July, 1996

It began with the bodies.
They had been seated, backs propped up against the tumble down stones of Hadrian’s Wall, faces a bitter white. Their heads were tilted forwards, their jaws grazing their sternums. You might have thought they were sleeping. But there was the colour of them, the rigid emptiness of them, the first shadowy scent of decomposition riding on the promising day to come.
Fifteen year old Isla Bell felt the ground sway beneath her, the village and the moors retreating far far away, so that it was just her and the dead.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A fairly grim opening I think you’ll agree but what do you think? Would you keep reading?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (March 19)

Weekly Wrap Up

This Week on the Blog

Well the surprise post of the week was the first one with my review of Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham garnering a lot of interest and some lively discussions. It seems like I’m not the only one that feels uneasy about a murderer writing about murder although other bloggers love her books, despite her background.

My excerpt post this week was from The Special Girls by Isabelle Grey, the third in the DI Grace Fisher series

On my This Week in Books Post I shared my reads for the week which included my first poisoner book of 2017 by Kathryn Harkup, Louise Walters and Andrée A. Michaud.

My second review of the week was for Cut Short by Leigh Russell which is the opener to the Geraldine Steel series which showed a lot of promise.

Last but by no means least I finally reviewed the first book I’ve read by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, The Legacy, the first of The Children’s House series.

The week ended on a high note with the latest Put a Book on the Map feature which visited Derby with DI Damen Brook in a post written by the author Steven Dunne and Blogger Mary Mayfield of Our Online Book Reviews.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading the second in the DI Grace Fisher series, Shot Through the Heart by Isabelle Grey. This is a book that goes straight to the action with a tense moment as we follow a man driving through a quiet Essex town on Christmas Day. In the back of his van are presents for his children… and a gun.

You can read my full review here or click on the book cover

Blurb

When a lone shooter claims the lives of five people on Christmas Day before turning the gun on himself, it’s up to DI Grace Fisher to find out, not who did it, but why and how.
Tracing the illegal weapon and its deadly load of homemade bullets, she soon uncovers a toxic web of police corruption, personal vendettas and revenge. But when the enemy is within, who will believe her?
As threats to her safety mount up and the strain of secrecy begins to wreck her friendships, Grace must decide how far she wants to pursue justice – and at what cost. Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

Well the restraint(assisted by the fog) of the last couple of weeks has gone out of the window with a fair few new acquisitions – but oh, they look so good!!

In no particular order…

I treated myself to a copy of The Doctor’s Wife Is Dead by Andrew Tierney which looks stunning.

Blurb

A mysterious death in respectable society: a brilliant historical true crime story

In 1849, a woman called Ellen Langley died in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary. She was the wife of a prosperous local doctor. So why was she buried in a pauper’s coffin? Why had she been confined to the grim attic of the house she shared with her husband, and then exiled to a rented dwelling-room in an impoverished part of the famine-ravaged town? And why was her husband charged with murder?

Following every twist and turn of the inquest into Ellen Langley’s death and the trial of her husband, The Doctor’s Wife is Dead tells the story of an unhappy marriage, of a man’s confidence that he could get away with abusing his wife, and of the brave efforts of a number of ordinary citizens to hold him to account. Andrew Tierney has produced a tour de force of narrative nonfiction that shines a light on the double standards of Victorian law and morality and illuminates the weave of money, sex, ambition and respectability that defined the possibilities and limitations of married life. It is a gripping portrait of a marriage, a society and a shocking legal drama. Amazon

Through the post I received a copy of The Cleaner by Elisabeth Herrmann from the publishers Bonnier Zaffre so a big thanks to Emily Burns!

Blurb

Pools of blood, scenes of carnage, signs of agonising death – who deals with the aftermath of violence once the bodies have been taken away?

Judith Kepler has seen it all. She is a crime scene specialist. She turns crime scenes back into habitable spaces. She is a cleaner.

It is at the home of a woman who has been brutally murdered that she is suddenly confronted with her own past. The murder victim knew Judith’s secret: as a child Judith was sent to an orphanage under mysterious circumstances – parentage unknown. And the East German secret police were always there, in the background. . . .

When Judith begins to ask questions, she becomes the target of some powerful enemies.

And nothing will ever be the same again. Amazon

From Lovereading UK I received a copy of A Talent For Murder by Andrew Wilson which will be published on 6 April 2017.

Blurb


‘I wouldn’t scream if I were you. Unless you want the whole world to learn about your husband and his mistress.’

Agatha Christie, in London to visit her literary agent, boards a train, preoccupied and flustered in the knowledge that her husband Archie is having an affair. She feels a light touch on her back, causing her to lose her balance, then a sense of someone pulling her to safety from the rush of the incoming train. So begins a terrifying sequence of events. Her rescuer is no guardian angel; rather, he is a blackmailer of the most insidious, manipulative kind. Agatha must use every ounce of her cleverness and resourcefulness to thwart an adversary determined to exploit her genius for murder to kill on his behalf. Amazon

I also have a copy of What Goes Around by Julie Corbin which will be published in paperback (eBook format already available) on what appears to be the most popular day of the publishing year, 6 April 2017

Blurb

Two women, two secrets, one murder…
If someone took away your perfect life
How far would you go to get it back?

Ellen’s family is her world. So when her husband leaves her for another woman, she is almost destroyed. But not quite, because Ellen has a plan, a way to make those who have hurt her suffer.
Leila is the other woman. She finally has everything she ever wanted. But Leila’s brother has come back into her life, raking up a past that needs to stay buried.

One of them will pay for their actions with their life, but which one? Amazon

Then there’s the NetGalley acquisitions… One of which is The Killer On The Wall from the talented Emma Kavanagh which is due to be published on 23 April 2017.

Blurb

The first body comes as a shock
The second brings horror
The third signals the beginning of a nightmare
When fifteen-year-old Isla Bell finds three bodies propped against Hadrian’s Wall, her whole world falls apart. In such a close-knit community, everyone knows the victims, and the man who did it.
Twenty years on and Isla has dedicated her life to forensic psychology; studying the brains of serial killers, and even coming face to face with the convicted murderer who turned her world upside down. She is safe after all, with him behind bars.
Then another body appears against the Wall.
And another.
As the nightmare returns and the body count rises, everyone in town is a suspect.
Who is the Killer on the Wall? NetGalley

As I will be far too busy reading for the next week to acquire anything new – my other finds will wait until next week.

What have you found to read this week? Do share, as you can see I’m always on the lookout for a good book!

tbr-watch

Since my last post I’ve read 3 books and gained 7 so the grand total is inching upwards to 191
Physical Books – 119
Kindle Books – 64
NetGalley Books – 17

Posted in Books I have read

Take Three Shorts

Short stories which link to other books seems to be a fairly new phenomenon but one I have to admit I was a bit suspicious of – surely the book itself should be enough? Do we really need another part to complete our reading experience?

In the interest of science I have put three to the test!

First up is Case 48: The Kidnapping of Isaiah Rae by Emma Kavanagh which was published shortly before the author’s latest novel The Missing Hours – this short is currently free and runs to 35 pages. Case 48 features Selena and Ed Cole, from The Missing Hours .

Case 48

When Elliot, the son of an electronics corporation CEO, is kidnapped and held for ransom, Selena and Ed are brought in to act as liasons. To make sure things run smoothly. To make sure Elliot comes home.
But when Selena discovers that Elliot’s biological mother was recently released from prison, things soon become more complicated, and more deadly, than they can possibly imagine … Amazon

Although this features two of the characters from the novel this is an entirely standalone story, and a good one at that. This short story, would give the reader insight into the work of those who work for the insurance company in kidnap and ransom demands. If like me you had no idea this industry existed, this story may just be the introduction you need to see if you’d enjoy a full length novel in this area.

Flourish.jpg

My second short is The Intruder at Number 40 by Louise Candlish, an author I was delighted to discover from the book this is linked to; The Sudden Departure of the Frasers. This short comes in at 33 pages and is currently 49p and features Amber Fraser of the title…

The Intruder at Number 40

He sold 40 Lime Park Road months ago. So why is he still visiting the house?
Ryan Steer is an estate agent in property hotspot Lime Park, gatekeeper to a growing population of well-heeled families and affluent couples attracted by the area’s promise of a tranquil suburban lifestyle. To be honest, the houses sell themselves, and when Ryan hands over the keys to his vendors he usually wishes them well and loses their faces in the crowd. Until Jeremy and Amber Fraser, that is. For there is something about Mrs Fraser that gets under his skin, something that causes illicit thoughts, thoughts that lead to actions – secret, forbidden ones.
But if ever a woman was worth the risk, it is Amber Fraser. Amazon

The Intruder at Number 40 was released earlier this year in the run up to the authors fantastic tale The Swimming Pool, so perhaps the idea was to get the authors name in the forefront of the readers mind in readiness. Again this was an enjoyable enough story, but apart from the house at Lime Grove, the very one the Frasers departed from, there isn’t anything in this book that adds to what we already know from reading the full-length novel, this was rather a stand alongside type of read. For me the book was just long enough for the tale it told, which would certainly make me wary of estate agents!

Flourish.jpg

My last choice was Here be Dragons by Sharon Bolton with a short story featuring two of my favourite characters Lacey Flint and Mark Joesbury and ties in with the end of A Dark and Twisted Tide, which was the fourth in the Lacey Flint series. This short story comes in at about double the length of the previous two and is currently priced at £1.99.

Here Be Dragons

There must be a thousand people in the vicinity of Westminster Bridge on this beautiful evening . . . in approximately thirty minutes’ time, many of them will be dead.
Mark Joesbury, of Scotland Yard’s Covert Operations Unit, is undercover. Embroiled in a terrorist gang’s plans for a deadly attack at the heart of the capital, he’s risking everything to stop them. But as they prepare to target London’s most iconic landmarks, it’s no longer just countless strangers he’s fighting to save. Because they’ve also got the woman he loves, DC Lacey Flint… Amazon

Here Be Dragons is my favourite of all three of the shorts because it does add something to the end of the last story. Maybe this is a sweetener for those of us who were hoping for another episode of Lacey Flint – although personally my disappointment has been assuaged by the new standalone book, Daisy In Chains which is going to be published next month. In this book we get to hear what Mark Joesbury is doing while he is missing from Lacey’s life – and the longer length mean that there is time for some proper thrills! I’m so glad I read this one and fully recommend it for all lovers of Lacey Flint.

Flourish.jpg

So three very different shorts all from my favourite authors with somewhat mixed results but perhaps nowhere near as negative as I feared. I’m not a huge fan of short stories and I was a little wary of feeling that I’d been conned into buying a book that I wouldn’t find satisfying. That didn’t happen with any of these books but perhaps it isn’t so surprising that I most enjoyed the longest offering. I also got an awful lot of enjoyment from meeting up with old favourite characters, far more than I expected. My conclusion is that for a quick read then a story that links with a much loved book may well be the way to go!

The Missing HoursThe Sudden Departrure of the FrasersA Dark and Twisted Tide NG

 

What do you think about short stories specifically written to tie-in with full-length novels?

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Missing Hours – Emma Kavanagh

Crime Fiction 4*s
Crime Fiction
4*s

Well Emma Kavanagh has done it again, by which I mean give me an entertaining and well-written novel and at the same time educate me about an area I am totally unfamiliar with; kidnap and ransom demands.

The Missing Hours is a mystery, it has elements of a police procedural where DS Finn Hale and his sister DC Leah Mackay are on police force firstly investigating the disappearance of Dr Selina Cole and then later, when a body is discovered, the brutal murder of solicitor Dominic Newell. Leah is drawn towards Selina’s story; why would a woman walk away from a playground where her two children are playing, and disappear? Finn feels her connection with this case when he, her superior, feels that the largest portion of resources should be pooled on the murder committed in Cardiff, may be related to her personal feelings, she is identifying just a little bit too much perhaps? But this isn’t a straightforward police procedural with elements of the psychology behind crime also being explored during this novel.

It took me a while to get into the swing of this book, as in her previous books, Emma Kavanagh has used multiple points of view, ranging from Heather, Selina’s daughter to the police, and different time periods to unveil the different strands of the story. Those illustrating the work that Selina carried out for the kidnap and ransom negotiations are covered in historical case files. These make for fascinating but from my perspective, a more remote type of interest, and I certainly learnt a lot about this little-reported crime and its resolutions in dangerous spots across the globe.

This book is a master in misdirection, I changed my mind numerous times about who was responsible for different elements but try as I might I couldn’t get any scenario to fit all the facts I was in possession of but of course Emma Kavanagh didn’t let me down and when all is finally revealed, I was reminder just how superb this author is at plotting a complex novel.

Maybe because many of the characters lived lives I find it hard to imagine, of live a lifestyle that depend upon them playing their cards very close to their chests either in the forces or carrying out difficult commissions to find kidnap victims, I didn’t find I connected terribly well with any of them except the two police officers. That isn’t to say these other characters aren’t well-drawn, I think it is probably that they were too realistic thereby while their actions were understandable, I just didn’t feel like I belonged in their world.

Perhaps because of the remoteness of some of the characters and getting to grips with the world of a company whose purpose is negotiating the release of those kidnapped it did take me far longer to get into this book than the author’s previous two novels – this isn’t a book to read for non-stop action as it does take a while for the pace to pick up. Once it did though, I was gripped and longing to know exactly who to believe made the dénouement totally worth the wait! A word of warning here though, this book ends very abruptly so much so that I actually thought I’d clicked over the last page, so readers who don’t like ambiguous endings may be disappointed with having to imagine what comes next! For those lovers of crime fiction who want something a little different from the twisted serial killer, this is a strong contender.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to the publishers Random House UK who allowed me to read a copy of The Missing Hours ahead of publication on 21 April 2016. This honest review is my thank you to them.

Previous books by Emma Kavanagh

Falling
Hidden

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (April 13)

This Week In Books

Lypsyy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

At the moment I am reading The Missing Hours by Emma Kavanagh, the author of both Falling and Hidden, both of which I awarded five stars, can she make it a hat-trick? You’ll have to wait for my review to find out!

The Missing Hours

A woman disappears
One moment, Selena Cole is in the playground with her children and the next, she has vanished without a trace.
A woman returns
Twenty hours later, Selena is found safe and well, but with no memory of where she has been.
What took place in those missing hours, and are they linked to the discovery of a nearby murder? NetGalley

The Missing Hours will be published by Random House UK on 21 April 2016.

I have just finished When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen

When She Was Bad

To read the synopsis and a short excerpt please see yesterday’s post

Next up is one of my kindle purchases, this time something a little different; The Closet of Savage Memories by Nuala Ní Chonchúir

The Closet of Savage Memories

Blurb

Lillis takes a summer job working at a lodge in a small lochside village in the Scottish Highlands. Leaving home is a way to escape her sorrow and despair following the death of her boyfriend and a testy relationship with her mother, Verity.
In Scotland she encounters love and excitement but when a series of unexpected events turn her new found life on its head, she is forced to make a life-changing decision, one that will stay with her for her whole life.
The Closet of Savage Mementos is drawn directly from the author’s own experiences and explores heartbreak, loss, motherhood and adoption in a gripping narrative and the same expressive, emotive and exciting prose we have come to expect of Nuala Ní Chonchúir. Amazon

What are you reading this week? Do share your thoughts in the comments below